Bethany Bauer could not find a cannoli to buy in all of Muskegon. At least not an “authentic” cannoli like her mother’s.
So, she’s opened a little bakery on Third Street. It specializes in her from-scratch-family-recipe cannoli as well as cakes and cookies. Because no cannoli is like hers, the little bakery is named The Only Cannoli.
The business began in 2018 at the Muskegon farmers market. Bauer used Kitchen 242, Muskegon’s incubation kitchen, to get the business started. At first, she sold her products just at festivals and the farmers market “to build a following.”
“We were super busy,” she said, so in 2019 she transitioned to a brick-and-mortar presence. Road construction there began the day she opened. She has since moved to Third Street, and the bakery is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
“I grew up with cannolis,” she said. Bauer was raised in the Detroit area, where there’s a greater Italian presence than in Muskegon. “Cannolis were always around us,” not only at home but also in bakeries. Bauer learned to make them from her mother. And her mother’s grandmother, from Sicily.
Cannolis are always available at The Only Cannoli. The shells await customer requests; they’re filled with fresh ricotta and toppings upon ordering. When customers ask how long they’ll last, Bauer responds, “You should eat them now.”
That’s because the crisp shells soften with time. Still delicious, but they’re typically eaten as soon as they’re filled. The bakery has a few tables where customers can sit down and enjoy immediately.
There’s not only the traditional pistachio but also more Americanized versions that include chocolate chip, cookies and cream with Oreo crumbles, and black magic with dark chocolate. New cannoli fillings are spotlighted each month.
The Only Cannoli also offers cookies and cakes, some of them also monthly offerings. “We’ve found the life cycle of something new is about three weeks,” Bauer said. Thus, the specials, created by any of the five staff members.
Giant cookies called “Chunkies” are bakery manager Kim Sorenson’s brainchild. “I jumped on board thinking ‘let’s get a classic everybody loves,’” she said. “Let’s do a chocolate chip cookie.”
Bauer’s response: “As long as it’s the best. It needs to be extraordinary.”
Chunkies are now on the menu.
Jarod Peterson — known as the chaos coordinator because he jumps in wherever he’s needed — masterminded the Choclava Chip Cookie. “If a chocolate chip cookie and baklava had a baby — that’s what it is,” Bauer said.
“Everybody knows something about baking,” she added. “As long as you’ve got a creative mind, you’ll fit in here.”
She said she wants the staff to have fun. “When they have fun, it doesn’t feel like work,” she said.
Vegan options are growing — with no butter or eggs. There are vegan shells and monthly vegan fillings. There’s also three flavors of vegan shortbread cookies and vegan carrot cake. Because staff members are continually designing new items, vegan options on the menu read, “Ask an artist!”
“I really, really love my staff and would hate for them to feel let down if we didn’t make it,” Bauer said. “I’m a regular person who happens to have a bakery. We’re just trying to tantalize the tastebuds.”
Most sales are through foot traffic. There’s no phone number for customers to call. The bakery recommends customers check The Only Cannoli’s website and social media. They’re big on Facebook and Instagram, and they respond to email through their website.